Thursday, August 19, 2010

Frank Kermode (1919–2010)

The literary critic Frank Kermode has died.

Men, like poets, rush “into the middest,” in medias res, where they are born; they also die in mediis rebus, and to make sense of their span they need fictive concords with origins and ends, such as give meaning to lives and to poems. The End they imagine will reflect their irreducibly intermediary preoccupations.

Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (1967).
[“Into the middest”: From Edmund Spenser’s 1589 letter to Sir Walter Ralegh regarding The Faerie Queene:
For an historiographer discourseth of affayres orderly as they were donne, accounting as well the times as the actions; but a poet thrusteth into the middest, even where it most concerneth him, and there recoursing to the things forepaste, and divining of thinges to come, maketh a pleasing analysis of all.
In medias res: into the midst of things. In mediis rebus: in the midst of things.]

comments: 3

Adair said...

All the greats are passing...

stefan said...

That's sad news indeed. Mr. Kermode's The Sense of an Ending holds a special place for me--I don't think I could have completed my Master's thesis without it.

William V. Madison said...

Grateful to you for taking note of this sad news.